SLO church to dedicate new digital organ Sunday

San Luis Obispo’s First Presbyterian Church will soon sound with heavenly organ music.

The church’s new digital organ, made by Veritas Organ Co. of Houston, is designed to replicate the same stately sounds heard in European cathedrals.

“When it plays, you can’t tell it’s not a pipe organ,” longtime church member Bob Gordon said of the organ, which will be dedicated Sunday.

According to Gordon, the church raised $51,000 toward the purchase of the $150,000 organ. The rest came in the form of a matching gift from Diane Blakeslee Brocato, founder of local financial planning firm Blakeslee & Blakeslee, and her husband, Joseph Brocato.

“If it hadn’t been for Diane, it wouldn’t have happened,” Gordon said, noting that the Brocatos previously donated pianos to San Luis Obispo United Methodist Church and Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa.

This organ was manufactured in England, then shipped across the Atlantic Ocean through the Panama Canal to Los Angeles. A delivery truck brought it to San Luis Obispo.

Gordon said it’s one of two Veritas organs in California; the other belongs to First United Methodist Church of Lompoc.

Sunday’s festivities start at 2:30 p.m. with a ribbon-cutting ceremony by the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce, followed by a free concert at 3 p.m.

First Presbyterian organist Katya Gotsdiner McMahan and concert organist Graham Blyth, Veritas’ president and tonal director, will perform works by Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel and others, joined by the church’s Chancel Choir, Bell Choir and Brass Quartet. There’s also a reception planned.

Brocato Blakeslee said she hopes that Sunday’s concert will be first of many.

“Nobody wants to come and perform if there’s a clunker,” she said, “but if they know there’s a real quality instrument then they will jump at the chance to do a concert.”

For more information about Sunday’s dedication, which is free and open to the public, contact Bob Gordon at 541-1532 or sloflwrs4u@aim.com.